Thursday, November 5, 2015

Recently Read: The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This is one children's book your kids will ask for you to read again and again. You'll happily oblige, because it's a quick read that will fulfill your bedtime routine. And, the message is incredibly important! Every child should feel early on that they have a God-given purpose on Earth, and they should be instilled with the confidence to pursue it. This book would make a great baby shower gift for expecting or new parents, or for a young child's milestone birthday. I could see this being an awesome kindergarten or fifth birthday gift. 

I enjoyed reading The Plans I Have For You with our seven and eight-year-old boys. One of the greatest joys of parenting is watching them blossom into independent, productive and happy young people. This story is a great tool to accompany the journey.

Years ago, I purchased a Dr. Seuss title with a very similar message, albiet without mention of God. I have read it to my son many times. This Plans I Have For You is a similar story to emphasize the importance each child carries with them, but from a Christian perspective. In this book, the child learns God has great things in store for them. A child of any age (Me! Right here!) likes to be reminded of this!

Besides the similarity to the popular Seuss book, the other thing that strikes me right away is the beautiful, bright illustrations. Children from various backgrounds are depicted in vivid, full page illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Between the pictures and the easy-to-follow rhymes written by author Amy Parker, it's a fun, quick read. Tuck the kids into bed filled with inspiration and joy and then relax, because you've done something good for your kids today. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Ways to Enjoy Tastykake Mini Cupkakes

When I was young, one of my favorite treats was actually when mom's pantry was empty. That's because it meant a stop at the gas station for breakfast. On those mornings, I'd choose a pair of chocolate cupcakes; you know, the ones with the white squiggles on top. Sweet satisfaction!

Imagine  my delight when my first Influenster VoxBox arrived with a smaller (but more grown up?) version of one of my favorite childhood treats. Yay! Talk about a mini win! Influenster is a community of 1.5 million socially savvy shoppers that test and review products. 

The first thing they asked me to review is food. Eat these, they said. Write about the eating, they said. OK! With a full box at my disposal, I was happy to test and approve the following uses for Tastykake mini cupkakes.

1. Bribe your kids to finish homework/clean their room/eat dinner/etc.
2. After the kids have gone to bed, indulge in Tastykakes Minis + ice cream/milk/pick your pleasure
3. Send a secret snack with a love note in your kids' or in the hubs' lunchbox for them to find later
4. Keep a stash in your desk drawer at work for emergency situations
5. Unwrap, stack and share a plate of Tastykakes Minis with the fam while watching the football game/movie/etc.

And don't forget, cupkakes are always great for breakfast!

Check out Tastykake's fun social media posts and offers:

Thanks to Influenster for the complimentary tasty treats. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cold Camping at Red River Gorge

What possesses a grown woman to give up a cozy bed in favor of the cold, hard ground with overnight temperature dipping into the teens?

There may have been moments she thought--while adjusting the glove warmers tucked inside her boots, gloves and cap--just maybe this wasn't a great idea. Layered inside two sleeping bags and a ridiculous amount of clothing, she shivered and prayed for daylight. But she's mostly forgotten that by now. 

There are few things more gratifying than exploring a place you've never been before, a place you may never visit again. If you're open minded, you don't have to travel far to find a decent weekend adventure. 

The Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky has been the scene of many such adventures for me. While I typically prefer my feet planted on the ground (as opposed to say, repelling down a rock face) there are incredible views and amazing rock formations to be seen if you're willing to do the work. 

The work at hand during our March 2015 visit was a relatively short hike (about two miles in) along the Sheltowee Trace, which is a main trail through the Gorge. An unofficial (read: potentially hidden) trail provides a quarter-mile ascent to Cloud Splitter. This is a great blog describing the trail and many others at Red River Gorge .

Here are some of our pictures from the weekend. Happy hiking!

Red River Gorge - Cloud Splitter - March 2015